Thursday, August 2, 2012
Carnage in Colorado
It’s hard to believe I spent over two weeks writing my last blog and I’m already sitting here with a pen in my hand, chicken scratching my thoughts on paper. I’m usually emotionally drained after writing and take a two day reprieve to recuperate. The last blog was so upbeat that I didn’t have the same emotional drain.
I am ecstatic that I chose my heroes for my last blog, considering the tragedy that happened in my own backyard at an unsuspecting movie theatre. I’m not sure we’ll ever know or understand James Holmes’s motivation for such carnage. Even if we were given a reason, very few of us could relate to such needless tragedy.
It would be absolutely irresponsible of me to say that mass murderers are all motivated by the same thing. It would also be irresponsible of me to claim to have the answer. For my own peace of mind, however, I will try to make some sense of what happened in Aurora, Colorado on that fateful night of July 20th, 2012.
Some of my beliefs as to why Holmes went on a rampage have been discussed in previous blogs. None of them, however, have been discussed in this capacity.
While researching James Holmes’s childhood and background, I discovered the family, in conjunction with the police, have kept a vail of secrecy on James’s childhood, background, family life, and health history. Therefore, like every other media outlet, dime store psychologist, or blogger, the most I will be able to do is put forth the facts we have, along with my thoughts and opinions.
I’ve written previously on bullying. Honestly, my first thought when I heard about the violent rampage was who, in this man’s life, left enough emotional damage to push him over the edge? Childhood bullying, is not a right of passage, as some would like to believe. It leaves children, young adults, and adults, full of fear, shame, and worthlessness. Was James Holmes bullied by other kids? By adults?
According to two of his friends from his early school years, James was not bullied. He was not a bully either. He was well liked by everyone. He excelled in academics, sports, and computer programming. Holmes appeared to be liked by everyone. He wasn’t the social outcast that Harris and Klebold were. As a matter of fact, he appeared to be just like every other kid. That being the case, it seems safe to rule out bullying as his motive, unless he was bullied at home. I have no knowledge of this at this time.
When I began initially investigating who Holmes was, and who his family was, I leaned towards the fact that his parents may have put expectations on James that were unrealistic. Maybe they expected perfection.
James’s mother is a R.N., and his father is highly educated and working in the banking and financial industry. Their home is meticulous and well groomed. Clearly a sign of a family that was very proud of their accomplishments and on top of things.
When researching, I discovered that perfectionism is both a genetic predisposition, and a factor of environmental exposure. Maybe Holmes’s parents were unaware that they were driving their son too hard. As parents, some of us may not know the line of what is too much. I personally expect my children to go to college and be better than me. When we discuss college, it is not an option... it just is. Maybe I am putting too much on my boys. As parents, we do what we think is right and often our children do not express their feelings of too much pressure. This is another reason we should keep an open line of communication with our kids. Anyway... maybe James’s parents were just normal people who never pushed their son in this fashion. Until further information is released, all I can do is speculate, just like everyone else.
My next thought of what drove James to unleash such fury on innocent people is the possibility of a mental illness. Again, I can only refer to his childhood friends for potential answers. There was no evidence of depression or mania. Friend Adam Martinez said, “I don’t think anyone ever had anything bad to say about him. Ever.”
As we all know, many mental illnesses do not appear until our teenage years. Maybe something reared its ugly head when James moved to Colorado. It is at this stage that we learn of him being a loner, going as far as taping trash bags to his windows to ensure privacy. Again, without further evidence, I would not make a conclusive call on mental illness.
I suppose this is where I tie my theory, which of course includes personal life events, into why James Holmes unleashed his rage on Colorado. First, let me say that while researching, I discovered that he had become involved with massively multiplayer online role playing games, or MMORPG’s. To be specific... WOW, or World of Warcraft.
As the wife of an ex-gamer (once an addict always an addict), I have the privilege of Tom’s knowledge of a gamer’s life.
Gamers are often shy and lack confidence. They tend to have social phobias or awkwardness. Before anyone points out that James was liked and social when he was younger, I will tell you that my husband was also liked, social and athletic. Once these personality types are introduced to video games, the unravelling begins. Holmes, like my husband is incredibly competitive.
When Tom played MMORPG’s, he spent an immense amount of time creating characters and recreating characters. This was a continuous cycle as Tom never felt his character was up to his standards... perfect! Unlike Holmes, Tom was never able to play on the side of evil. It made him uncomfortable and he always went with the good.
Many gamers begin to live through their characters. Once you have created an avatar, which is a character you identify with, you feel the safety of socializing. After all, there is a computer or television screen between you and the rest of the world.
Many gamer addicts have an inability to leave the fantasy of the game behind during their daily routines. So, they may physically be in a classroom or at their job, but their minds are in the game. Some gamers are unable to leave their gaming behind at all. Those are the players that receive only a few hours of sleep per day, eat and drink the bare minimum (they don’t eat healthy and eat just enough to sustain life), become isolated from their peers, lose their jobs or drop out of school. These are the gamers that lose their real identity and comfortably become EvilMage 123.
In my opinion, that in and of itself, could cause a seemingly normal young adult to lose it and commit such a horrible carnage. I am not referring to a person snapping and impulsively going crazy. What I am alleging is that this a lengthy process that begins when the gamer begins to obsess on their character.
I would definitely go out on limb and say that James Holmes was suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (O.C.D.) and possibly another disorder such as Anti-social Personality Disorder (A.S.P.D.).
Again, any attempt for me to diagnose James Holmes would be incredibly irresponsible on my part. So, I will reenforce the fact that this is all my theory and speculation. I am neither a licensed therapist or psychiatrist, nor have I ever met this man.
Before my closing thoughts, I would like to share a story with you. When my oldest son Ryan was born, I would not allow him to watch violent or horror movies. I would also not allow him to play violent video games. Ryan grew up on Freddie Fish, Dr. Seuss, Toy Story and Winnie the Pooh. He was fourteen before I allowed him to play the mature video games, or watch hard core violent movies. No, he wasn’t playing Winnie the Pooh at thirteen. Dynasty Warriors, Rock Band, Madden, Call of Duty are a few examples of the games he was allowed to play.
My husband, Ryan’s stepdad, thought I was too strict and over protective. Maybe so, but I stood by my decision and belief.
When Toryn came along, I held my position again, on the non-violent movies and video games. Unfortunately, I was vetoed and Toryn was allowed to play video games that, in my opinion, were above and beyond his years and capability of understanding. He did not see much in the way of violent movies, since I manned the television and I personally despise violent movies. There were a few super hero movies that he saw that I thought were a little to mature for him.
Why would I be telling you this? Well, Ryan was and still is, a passive, non-violent kid who did not struggle in any way with violent or evil thoughts. Toryn, on the other hand, has shown signs of stress related to violence. Toryn has come to me on many occasions asking me to help protect himself from his thoughts. We use angels in our house for that.
Tom, now concedes that Toryn’s thoughts become worse when he is game playing, and they wane when he plays less. Tom agrees that in all likelihood, the game playing is the source of his violent thoughts and actions, especially when introduced at such a young age. So will we see a lot more violence with the upcoming generations being exposed to violence at such a young age? I think the jury is out on that one. Toryn, in the mean time, now plays games such as Madagascar and Ice Age.
James Holmes donned himself in paramilitary gear on July 20th. Gear that is worn by our SWAT teams and special op forces. This goes along with the characters in Call of Duty and Halo. Did Holmes play games such as that as well? In all probability, yes. I have found game players to be fairly versatile in multiple genres.
Finally, I come to my timeline of events. This is my theory of how James Holmes unravelled, ultimately leading to twelve dead and fifty-eight wounded on that fateful Friday morning, July 20th, 2012.
Holmes, who was a known loner, left his comfortable hometown of San Diego, California. He not only left behind the comfort and familiarity of his family and friends, Holmes demanded perfection of himself. At some point (whether in California or Colorado), Holmes was introduced to MMORPg’s. Without anyone to remind him of his responsibilities, Holmes spent more and more time online. As he spent his time becoming EvilMage123, he continued to skip homework and studying. Holmes was now farther behind, but promised himself that he would get offline tomorrow and start his studies. Tomorrow never came! Eventually the time came to prove his knowledge to the school, who was paying his way. James Holmes failed!
One thing that is certain, is that for James Holmes, failure is not an option. Despite the fact that Holmes had been purchasing weapons and ammunition for weeks leading up to the shooting (as he probably already knew after his mid-terms that things were on a downward spiral) the failed oral exam was the final straw.
On July 20, 2012, James Holmes was no longer himself. He was the great and infamous Joker. A joke to his family, himself, and now... to the world.
This time, however, the “joke” would be on the sixty-eight people in the theatre that night, and their families as well.
Personally, I believe that the world we live in is riddled with stress and anxiety. We put so much pressure on ourselves and our loved ones to excel with perfection. Mental illnesses seem to be growing* (that of course is a whole other blog). Without a doubt, I believe video games, violence in t.v. and movies, and an inundation of negative media has caused society to lose control of reality.
So, there you have it. My belief and opinion on James Holmes. Time will tell if I am accurate in any way. My hearts and prayers go out to the families of the victims in Aurora, Colorado.
* It is of my opinion that preservatives, artificial flavors and food coloring are the reason for higher mental illnesses. I’d love to have a therapist comment on whether or not they believe mental illnesses are on the rise.
Again, I do not claim the timeline or reasons for the Aurora shooting to be fact. Again, this solely MY opinion on what happened in Holmes’s brain.